They condemn Jesus to death (Mk 14:64-14:64)

“You have heard

His blasphemy!

What is your decision?’

All of them

Condemned him

As deserving death.”

 

ἠκούσατε τῆς βλασφημίας· τί ὑμῖν φαίνεται; οἱ δὲ πάντες κατέκριναν αὐτὸν ἔνοχον εἶναι θανάτου.

 

This is something similar in Matthew, chapter 26:65-66.  There is nothing like this in Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 18.  Mark said that the high priest said that they had heard his blasphemy (ἠκούσατε τὴν βλασφημίαν).  Technically, it might not have been a blasphemy, since someone had to utter the divine name or profane sacred things, but it was close enough.  Thus, this high priest asked for a decision or verdict.  What did it appear to them (τί ὑμῖν φαίνεται;)?  All the members of the council that included the chief priests, the priests, the presbyters, the elders, and the Scribes condemned Jesus (οἱ δὲ πάντες κατέκριναν αὐτὸν), that he deserved to die (ἔνοχον εἶναι θανάτου).  Technically, they could not condemn Jesus to death, since only the Roman authorities could impose a death penalty.

 

John the Baptizer (Mk 1:4-1:4)

“John the Baptizer

Appeared

In the wilderness.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness of sins.”

 

ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν

 

There is something similar, but not quite the same in all 4 gospel stories.  Matthew, chapter 3:1-2, called John the Baptist (βαπτιστὴς) not the Baptizer (ὁ βαπτίζων), but John was in the wilderness, like here, calling for repentance.  In Matthew, John also warned the people that the kingdom of heaven was near.  Luke, chapter 3:2:3, is actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  Mark has this simple statement that John the Baptizer, or the one baptizing, appeared (ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων) in the wilderness or desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ).  How and what he did before or after did not matter.  He was there proclaiming or preaching a baptism of repentance, a life change, or metanoia (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας) to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away (ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  John tied this repentant change of life style baptism with the forgiving of sins or wiping away of past faults, since he was calling for repentance.  John and Jesus are linked in some ways like Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One is superior to the other but the other plays an indispensable role.

The example of David (Mt 12:3-12:4)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Have you not read

What David did

When he was hungry?

His companions were hungry.

He entered

The house of God.

He ate the bread

Of the Presence,

Which it was not lawful

For him

Or his companions

To eat,

Since it was

Only for the priests.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε τί ἐποίησεν Δαυεὶδ ὅτε ἐπείνασεν καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ;

πῶς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγον, ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν οὐδὲ τοῖς μετ’ αὐτοῦ, εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις;

 

 responded to the Pharisees by citing the example of David in 1 Samuel, chapter 21:1-6.  David went to the Levite town of Nob, where Ahimelech was the high priest.  David said that he needed bread for himself and his men.  Ahimelech responded that he only had consecrated holy bread for the sacrifices, not common bread.  That bread was for the Levites, but the priest then gave him the holy bread anyway.  This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:25-26, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  It is also the same as Luke, chapter 6:3-4.  Jesus said to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  He wanted to know if they had read the unnamed book of Samuel (Οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε). That was when David and his companions were hungry (τί ἐποίησεν Δαυεὶδ ὅτε ἐπείνασεν καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ).  He entered the house of God (πῶς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  He ate the bread of the Presence or sacred Levite bread (καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγον,).  However, it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat it (ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν οὐδὲ τοῖς μετ’ αὐτοῦ).  Only the Levite priests were allowed to eat this sacred bread (εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις).  The bread of the Presence were 12 loaves of bread in the holy place in the Temple that symbolized communion with God.  Thus, Jesus used the example of David to answer the Pharisees.

The covenant with Levi (Mal 2:4-2:5)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Know!

That I have sent this command

To you.

My covenant with Levi

May hold.

My covenant with him

Was a covenant

Of life,

Of well-being.

I gave him

This covenant.

This called for reverence.

He revered me.

He stood in awe of my name.’”

Yahweh had a special covenant with the tribe of Levi, the priests.  Yahweh had set up his life-long covenant with a command to Levi that he would bring well-being to the Levites.  Yahweh had called for reverence.  Thus, the Levies had revered and stood in awe of Yahweh’s name.

Another oracle about the past fasting (Zech 7:4-7:7)

“Then the word

Of Yahweh of hosts

Came to me.

‘Say to all the people

Of the land

As well as the priests.

‘When you fasted,

When you lamented,

In the fifth month

As well as the seventh month,

For these seventy years,

Was it for me

That you fasted?

When you eat.

When you drink,

Do you not eat

Only for yourselves?

Do you not drink

Only for yourselves?

Were not these the words

That Yahweh proclaimed

By the former prophets?

This was when

Jerusalem was inhabited

In prosperity.

Was this not when

The towns around it

Were inhabited?

Was this not when

The Negeb

With the Shephelah

Were inhabited?’”

Yahweh sent another oracle to Zechariah about the fasting and lamenting that they had done for the past 70 years during the 5th and 7th months because of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BCE and the murder of their governor.  Zechariah was to ask the people of the land and the priests why they had fasted.  Why did they not eat or drink?  Did they do if for themselves or for Yahweh?  Yahweh had warned them, via the prophets, when Jerusalem was prosperous and inhabited.  The towns around Jerusalem, as well as desert Negeb and the low land Shephelah were inhabited at that time also.

Question about uncleanness (Hag 2:13-2:13)

“Then Haggai said.

‘If one who is unclean,

By contact with a dead body,

Touches any of these,

Does it become unclean?’

The priests answered.

‘Yes,

It becomes unclean.’”

Now Haggai asked the opposite question.  How does anyone become unclean, the opposite of holy?  Normally, people became unclean by touching a dead body.  What would happen if this unclean person, who had touched the dead body, touched the bread, the stew, the wine, the oil, or any other kind of food.  Would these food products become unclean?  The answer of the priests was the opposite of the question about holiness, yes.  Instead of no impact, the uncleanness would spread, so that all these things would be unclean, like a contagion.

Past crimes (Hos 6:7-6:9)

“But like Adam,

They transgressed the covenant.

There they dealt faithlessly

With me.

Gilead is a city

Of evildoers,

Tracked with blood.

As robbers lie in wait

For someone,

So,

The priests

Are banded together.

They murder

On the way to Shechem.

They commit

A monstrous crime.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, compared the sin of Adam with the other later Israelites. They had broken the covenant. Perhaps the “there” mentioned here was the 40 years in the wilderness, when sometimes they were unfaithful to Yahweh. The city of Gilead, on the other side of the Jordan River, was a city of bloody evil people. Just as robbers wait for someone to come by to rob, so the priests have joined together to murder people on their way to the northern shrine at Shechem. They have committed all kinds of monstrous crimes. Perhaps, this northern Israelite Samaritan sanctuary was considered the great monstrosity. Notice the continual anti-clericalism of the prophets.